Published on 3 Nov 2013

No fire zone: Commonwealth rehabilitating Sri Lankan regime

Spin the clock forward.  It’s 2018.  You’re four-and-a-half years older and you’ve just woken up to the headlines: more than 50 world leaders are heading to the Syrian capital, Damascus, for a global summit, hosted by President Bashar al-Assad. Syria’s at peace, it’s economy, thriving. The tourists are back and the “terrorists”, vanquished. Mr Assad is basking in golden glow of total victory. And the terrible war crimes of which he was once accused? Swept under the carpet, in the spirit of looking forward, not back.  Triumphant, magnanimous, his charming wife at his side, the dictator-turned-statesman grasps the hand of the British Prime Minister, and shakes it firmly, live on TV. A huge grin splits Assad’s face. He’s back in the fold – and he knows it.

Sound far-fetched?  Far from it.  It’s happening this month.  OK, not in Syria and not with Assad, but in Sri Lanka, a country whose president stands accused of the worst war crimes committed this century. And that’s saying something, given what’s going on in Syria. Welcome to CHOGM 2013, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo: a prestigious international summit, graced by more than 50 presidents and prime ministers… and our very own Prince of Wales.

The meeting will be staged on a palm-fringed, sun-drenched tropical island, whose blood-drenched recent backstory will shock the world. I’ve been reporting about Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields for the past four-and-a-half years and those who know the dark and dirty secrets of what happened there are incredulous at what’s about to take place. This is a regime that is getting away with murder and the Commonwealth is complicit in its rehabilitation.

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On 15 November, Prince Charles – representing the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth – and David Cameron will shake hands with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.  According to the United Nations, forces under his command oversaw the indiscriminate killing of between 40,000 and 70,000 ethnic Tamil civilians during the final few months of the 28-year-long conflict.

Make no mistake: the Tamil Tiger separatists were banned by Britain as a terrorist organisation and were themselves responsible for many terrible atrocities against civilians during the war. But the government’s all-out campaign to defeat the Tigers set a new benchmark in wanton brutality. Bizarrely, President Rajapaksa rose to prominence as a human rights lawyer. He now heads an unrepentant, pariah regime. He has steadfastly rejected demands for an independent international inquiry into alleged war crimes – including from our own Prime Minister.

A gruesome selection of those alleged crimes was caught on camera. This footage of slaughter, most filmed on mobile phones by both victims and perpetrators, depicts a vision of hell on earth in what the Sri Lankan government, with no apparent hint of irony, called the “no fire zone.” It was a God-forsaken stretch of beach onto which they herded more than 100,000 Tamil civilians and the rump of the rebel army.  Before killing them in a storm of shellfire.

During the endgame of the conflict, the government barred independent journalists from the no fire zone.  But it was not a war without witnesses because those pesky little mobile phones were everywhere, in the hands of soldiers and civilians. The metadata buried deep within each video provides definitive digital proof that what you’re watching is not hammed-up in a Hollywood basement – as the Sri Lankan regime have you believe.

Tonight, Channel 4 broadcasts No Fire Zone, the eponymous documentary, directed by Callum Macrae, the culmination of a three-year-long investigation which began with Channel 4 News reports and included two documentaries in the Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields series –  described by the UN as “particularly powerful” in bringing the evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka to the attention of the international community.

No Fire Zone relates the chilling story of the last 138 days of this war, which culminated on that beach in north eastern Sri Lanka in early 2009. The mobile phone footage has been verified and authenticated and woven together with testimony from eye-witnesses. Be warned: this film is as traumatic as it is compelling.

Now the regime accused of the commission of these crimes is to be rewarded with a place on the world stage. You really couldn’t make it up. And for the two years that follow this summit, Sri Lanka will lead the 53-member Commonwealth, a body whose core “shared” values are respect for human rights and democracy, as set out in the Commonwealth Charter, signed by the Queen in March this year.

Prince Charles and David Cameron should be shackled to their sofas in Highgrove and No.10 and forced to watch the No Fire Zone documentary before they board their flight to Colombo. As should every other Commonwealth head of government planning to attend.  And, frankly, as should every tourist heading to this tropical “paradise” which glories in being crowned British Airways’ top destination 2013.

Sri Lanka thinks it’s out of rehab, spruce and clean. But it’s not.

At Channel 4 News, we have been persistent in our reporting of the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s civil war.  The government has repeatedly challenged our reports, dismissing video evidence we’ve broadcast as “fake.” The grimmest and most controversial of these depicted the summary execution of bound, naked Tamil prisoners, by Sri Lankan soldiers. “Hollywood,” said the government. Independent analysts commissioned by the UN proved them wrong.

Early next year, the international bar association will launch a smart-phone app, called iWitness, which is inspired by our experience in covering Sri Lanka’s war crimes at Channel 4 News. The app will allow the witness to an atrocity to securely upload encrypted video, while protecting their identity. It’s designed around the requirements of the legal process.

According to the UN and all leading international human rights groups, Sri Lanka’s human rights record has has actually got worse since the civil war ended. Today, torture is rife and there are more unresolved disappearances than in any other country bar Iraq.

Canada’s Prime Minister is boycotting CHOGM because of all this but the British government insists that the meeting will shine a spotlight on Sri Lanka.

David Cameron: if you really are going to challenge your host on his human rights record, as you’ve promised to, do watch your back.

A version of this article appears in this week’s Radio Times Point of View column.

Follow Jonathan Miller on Twitter.

Tweets by @millerc4

56 reader comments

  1. v.balagopal says:

    I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE SRILANKAN PROBLEM FOR MORE THAN 25YEARS. BEING A RESIDENT OF TAMILNADU I COULD SEE THE POLITICAL LEADERS AND POLITICAL TRADERS ALIKE MISUSING THE PROBLEM TO THEIR OWN PERSONAL GAINS, MORE SO AT MY OWN STATE OF TAMILNADU. I FEEL SORROW OVERWHELMING ME AS EACH DAY BRINGS IN MORE NEWS AND REPORTS OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED ON THOSE TERRIBLE FINAL DAYS. OUR ONLY HOPE IS THE RESILENCE OF THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES AND FREE THINKING REPORTERS OF THE JOURNALISTIC WORLD TO UPHOLD THE TRUTH AND SHOUT FROM THE TOP OF THE TERRACE FOR THE WORLD TO HEAR AND WAKE UP. GOD BE WITHYOU.-BALAGOPAL

  2. Dinesh says:

    I am a Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) and I am well aware that the Sri Lankan government has committed war crimes.

    However, I do not agree with the hypocrisy of western nations calling for an independent, international investigation.

    Would the British and US governments be happy if there were to be an independent investigation into the Iraq war? The Iraq war was illegal. It is illegal to invade another country for no reason. The official body count in the Iraq war exceeds 100,000, but an estimate by the ORB puts the death toll at 1.2 million. Bradley Manning received 35 years in prison for exposing evidence of war crimes committed by the US government – plus he was held without trial for an extended period of time, which was a violation of his human rights. Apparently, the US is a civilised, democratic country.

    Canada is busy criticising the Sri Lankan government while they never bat an eyelid at the atrocities committed by the government of their neighbouring country. And let’s not forget the real reason why Canada is boycotting the summit. Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, is unpopular among his electorate – he is simply trying to win votes from LTTE sympathisers in Canada.

    I will be willing to support an international investigation into Sri Lanka if and only if there will also be an investigation into the actions of the US and Britain during the Iraq war. Channel 4, being a British media outlet, may not be willing to criticise their own government due to the fear of being seen an unpatriotic.

  3. Dinesh says:

    I am a Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) and I am well aware that the Sri Lankan government has committed war crimes.

    However, I do not agree with the hypocrisy of western nations calling for an independent, international investigation.

    Would the British and US governments be happy if there were to be an independent investigation into the Iraq war? The Iraq war was illegal. It is illegal to invade another country for no reason. The official body count in the Iraq war exceeds 100,000, but an estimate by the ORB puts the death toll at 1.2 million. Bradley Manning received 35 years in prison for exposing evidence of war crimes committed by the US government – plus he was held without trial for an extended period of time, which was a violation of his human rights. Apparently, the US is a civilised, democratic country.

    Canada is busy criticising the Sri Lankan government while they never bat an eyelid at the atrocities committed by the government of their neighbouring country. And let’s not forget the real reason why Canada is boycotting the summit. Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, is unpopular among his electorate – he is simply trying to win votes from LTTE sympathisers in Canada.

    I will be willing to support an international investigation into Sri Lanka if and only if there will also be an investigation into the actions of the US and Britain during the Iraq war. Channel 4, being a British media outlet, may not be willing to criticise their own government due to the fear of being seen as unpatriotic.

    1. Vani Kumar says:

      UK and US troops never killed people who have surrendered with white flag.

      “White Flag Incident” – Tamil Tiger leaders and their relatives including children(around 300 people) walk out of the war zone towards the Sri Lankan army, carrying white flags. Pulidevan and Nadesan were two of the most senior rebels to surrender. In the hours beforehand, they used satellite phones to send messages to diplomats, journalists and peace mediators to ensure top Sri Lankan officials, including the country’s President, knew of their intention to lay down their arms. They had been assured that their surrender would be accepted if they raised a white flag. No one survived.

      Even the Sri Lankan President knew that the group planned to surrender – they’d sent frantic messages through everyone they could think of – the UN, the Red Cross, Norwegian diplomats, Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, intermediaries in Europe and a Tamil member of parliament. All the indications from top officials in the Sri Lankan government were reassuring – that the surrender would indeed be accepted in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
      “No one survived.”

      1. Dinesh says:

        Sri Lankan troops didn’t kill 1.2 million people like US and UK troops did in Iraq.

  4. Dinuk says:

    Absolutely brilliant. The Commonwealth which is a British colonial relic turned platform to third world military dictators should be shut down.
    All this time no one had heard of it as it was hosted by odd African dictators, but in Asia where there has been a strong critic of colonialism this party to celebrate British imperialism and its lackey Military dictators needs to be SHUT DOWN.

  5. karl says:

    well written article. will the authorities listen? shame on the double standard politicians.

  6. NY Nathan says:

    Srilanka cannot be allowed to head an international body since the Srilanka did violate all human rights values on the earth by not only carrying out genocide of Tamils in 2009 but also celebrating the genocide as the VICTORY CELEBRATIONS annually. And also, Srilanka yet to investigate the Genocide crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes as UNHCR did pass resolution to urge Srilanka.

    As per Commonwealth, Srilanka violated all values of the HARARE declararion to each and every member states of the body. Then how on earth Srilanka be allowed to host the CHOGM let alone allowing the racist and genocidal Srilanka to head the same Commonwealth???????

    Srilanka must be punished for the genocide and war crimes to stop Srilanka to do the same genocide to Muslims and Christians as Srilanka already resumed atrocities against the Muslims and Christians,

    If CHOGM held there and Srilanka become rich enough, Srilanka never ever respect any human values of the earth as Srilanka don’t even respect any human rights at the moment despite Srilankan economy near bankrupt.

    Like the Commonwealth boycotted and isolated the racist APARTHEID South African regime, Srilanka must be isolated and boycotted by all international bodies until Srilanka come clean on human rights and harmony amaong races.

  7. NY Nathan says:

    Why Srilanka is an EXCEPTION ???
    Commonwealth already suspended the Apartheid South Africa, Pakistan and Fiji despite they did not GENOCIDE like Srilanka.
    By Selecting Srilanka for CHOGM conference, Commonwealth actually sending the message to member countries, If you do GENOCIDE, we will reward you for reducing the world population

  8. Ravi Eesparan says:

    Good writing, Mr.Miller,thank you very much..

  9. Kumar says:

    I am very very sad David Cameron and Prince Charles are going to shake hands with this man in Sri Lanka who is a suspected war criminal. In my believe David Cameron is playing politics with innocent victims that perished at the last stage of the war, some 50,000 to 80,000 civilians. I hope he will change his mind on COHGM and get UN to commission an international probe instead. No one including India or UK can get Rajapakse to change his mind on warcrime and abuse investigations or devolving power to Tamils in the North-East Sri Lanka.

    No words can Thank Channel 4 News enough- A TV station in the UK which fights relentlessly for the rights (human) of ordinary civilians, the world over.

  10. Anpu says:

    Thank you CH4 team. If not for you, with the help of UN and Commonwealth Rajapkse family would have escaped. We must find a way of charging these criminals in UN and commonwealth.

  11. Mohan says:

    British PM and some other so called leaders have blood in their hands. Thank God for Canadian PM Stephen Harper. man of priciples.

  12. James says:

    Thank you Mr Miller. Please write more about Double Standards of Commonwealth and “Commonwealth Secretary General Cover-up”.

  13. Srivanamoth says:

    Fake? The question is: who exactly is the fake? “Zero casualties”, said the President while the UN itself says at least 40,000! According to revised sources at least 70,000!! The LLRC left it to the SL Army to conduct its own investigation!They confirmed “zero killings of civilians”! There were 300,000 war ravaged refugees who escaped the mass killing into then so-called “no fire zone”. That makes it some 600,000 local eyes who watched the bloodletting “festival” by the ethnic military and/ or the LTTE.

    The UN SG a day later overflew the hell on earth and called it “the worst killings he had seen anywhere on earth”!

    Now comes some evidence which credibility can be investigated only independently by the UN NOT by an accused party by any standard. So what’s the problem? Where exactly does it lie?
    Channel 4 as an investigative global news media has screened rather very disturbing evidence. So who is afraid of the truth which ought to speak for itself!

    It will be very interesting to see what CHOGM will do about this terrible “sore” which is unlikely to go away until the truth is bared. Neither can it be wished away in the Age of Rights in the 21st century, surely.

  14. NY Nathan says:

    If CHANNEL4 Videos are FAKE videos, WHY NOT SRILANKA FILE LIBEL Cases against the Channel4????????????? answer is clear, the Sinhela FUNDAMENTALIST RACIST SRILANKA DID CARRY OUT GENOCIDE OF TAMILS IN 2009 AND STILL CONTINUE TO DO SO WITHOUT REMORSE.

  15. Antony Cecil-Wright says:

    The inhuman slaughter and the appalling cover up shown in No Fire Zone was almost too to horrible to watch. Our elected representatives must not collude in this disgusting exercise of brute power.

  16. Raj says:

    Oh my god, i can’t believe what has occurred in Sri Lanka during the final part of the war. This is a cold blood murder against civilians in the NO FIRE ZONE. Is there are any justice? Probably NO… To be honest I wouldn’t blame the Sri Lankan government, is the UN and other western nation to blame. “This is a failure of THE WORLD”

  17. Kugan says:

    No fire zone-Sri Lanka’s killing fields is an honest tribute to all those thousands of civilians who were systematically tortured and murdered by the Sri Lankan authorities. We, the Tamils diaspora salute and love Channel 4 for producing this documentary to bring justice to the war affected Tamils . There is no doubt that this was a genocidal war. David Cameron should respect the feelings of hundreds of thousand of Tamil voters and should NOT participate in the Commonwealth summit.

  18. Daniel Moore says:

    Having watched this tonight im very heart shocked to see what had happened. David Cameron should watch this before he goes, Disgraceful. War Crimes law should be brought to sri lanka goverment.

  19. Vas says:

    Thank you C4 for the tv programme, hope others pick it up!,,

  20. Chrisha Simmons says:

    No mention of Westminster being responsible for the discrimination of the minorities by the majority Sinhalese; which led to the 26 year war.
    In India, the lands and the provincial governance of the respective regions were returned to the indigenous people of India; like Gujarat, T.Nadu, Bengal, even the creation of Pakistan.
    This was not done in Ceylon. Britain was in a hurry and didn’t listen to the fears of minority.
    Britain, unified the whole island into one country and gave the governance of the island to the majority 74%, without any protection to the 26% minority who owned 1/3 rd of the land of the island for thousands of years.
    Britain took over the States of the minorities and served it on a plate to the Majority against the will of the minorities in 1948. This brought about the discrimination as the successive Governments built up constitutional Protection to the majority instead of constitutional Protection to the minorities; contrary to the civilised norm in the Common Wealth.
    Soon after the independance, the majority re-wrote the History of Ceylon as been a unitary, Sinhalese, Buddhist state for 2500 years.
    Hence Britain is totally responsible for the plight of the minorities which culminated in the killing Fields. Hence Britain should own up and rectify the situation.

  21. Chrisha Simmons says:

    No mention of Westminster being responsible for the discrimination of the minorities by the majority Sinhalese; which led to the 26 year war.
    In India, the lands and the provincial governance of the respective regions were returned to the indigenous people of India; like Gujarat, T.Nadu, Bengal, even the creation of Pakistan.
    This was not done in Ceylon. Britain was in a hurry and didn’t listen to the fears of minority.
    Britain, unified the whole island into one country and gave the governance of the whole island to the majority 74%, without any protection to the 26% minority who owned 1/3 rd of land of the island for thousands of years.
    Britain took over the States of the minorities and served it on a plate to the Majority against the will of the minorities in 1948. This brought about the discrimination as the successive Governments built up constitutional Protection to the majority instead of constitutional Protection to the minorities; contrary to the civilised norm in the Common Wealth.
    Soon after the independence, the majority re-wrote the History of Ceylon Text Books as been a unitary, Sinhalese, Buddhist state for 2500 years and the minorities are the remnants of Indian invaders and Muslim traders from India and the Middle East.
    Followed by the “Sinhalese Only” Law in 1956, legitimising the Sinhalese as the Only Citizens of the island and that the minorities can survive at the mercy of the Sinhalese Majority, mind set. These sentiments are often been openly announced by the Government, civilian and military heads of Sri Lanka, even to date.
    Hence Britain is totally responsible for the plight of the minorities which culminated in the killing Fields. Hence Britain should own up and rectify the situation.

  22. Mahinda Gunasekera says:

    Jonathan Miller has only quoted the exaggerated guesstimates of civilian casualties estimated by the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts sitting in New York at 40,000 and the subsequent Charles Petrie review of the UNSG’s report where they arbitrarily came up with a figure of 70,000, He has failed to quote the number of deaths reported by the UN Representative’s office in Colombo based on information gathered from their local staff of over 200 Tamil persons who remained in the conflict zone throughout as they were prevented from leaving the area by the Tamil Tigers which was 7,721. The number determined in a post war census carried out by Sri Lanka using Tamil enumerators was 7432, while the propaganda arm of the Tigers, i.e, the Tamilnet reported a total of 7,398 deaths for the same latter five months of the war ended on May 18, 2009.
    There are many questionable aspects of the ‘killing fields’ video which have not been answered, and furthermore this video earlier appeared on a pro-Tamil Tiger website where the perpetrators spoke Tamil words that matched the actions, whereas the one later dubbed
    with Sinhala words have no bearing to the criminal event. A Tamil Tiger cadre who entered Canada illegally by boat admitted to his having been asked to shoot captive Sri Lankan soldiers who were Sinhalese. MG

    1. Machchan Mathuram says:

      Dear Mahinda

      Yes you can rewrite Mahavamsha but not Mullivaikal story. Channel 4 already proved beyond anyone’s doubt how cruelly Sri Lankan troops killed over 70,000 civilians, including women and children and destroyed a nation.
      Don’t come up with stories at this late hour. Try and persuade the Sri Lankan goverment to come clean, agree for independent investigation to bring justice to the Tamils.

  23. EsanS says:

    The Channel 4’s, the documentary “No fire zone: Commonwealth rehabilitating Sri Lankan regime” yet again provides more evidence to support the allegations against the Sri Lankan government military personals and demonstrates the culpability at the very highest level of the chain of command, including the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa ( also defence Secretary) and military commanders.
    The Channel 4 relentlessly working to bring justice to the long victimized Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka and pressing the international community not to offer the accused Sri Lankan government leaderships and military leaderships a chance for forgiveness by attending the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka and shaking hands with bloods tainted Rajapaksa’s hands but offer victims and their families the opportunity to confront those responsible (including Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and other leaderships) for what happened to them, and hopefully to put the horrors of war behind them by punishing those responsible for the heinous war crimes against them.

  24. Thank You From Sri Lanka says:

    Jonathan, thank you for writing this piece. Victims of Sri Lanka’s atrocious practices and conducts, including the Tamil diaspora truly appreciate the leading role Channel 4 has taken in pressuring for action on the international stage.

  25. NY Nathan says:

    Srilanka HUMDRUM response always that the CHANNEL 4 Videos are fake and fabricated despite the videos were taken by the Srilankn military troops and authenticated by experts but Srilanka never ever DARE ti sue the Channel 4 because Srilanka know well that Srilankan military did the war crimes, crimes against humanity and atrocities against Tamils, Muslims and Christians in the island,

  26. L.Nadarajah says:

    This Channel 4 programme shows up the Sri Lankan government (and country) for what it is – a pariah state.
    It also highlights that religion and politics – should not mix. Religious clergy have caused havoc and have made a mockery of their religion – when these zealots bring their religion into politics!

  27. David Wales says:

    Poor old Jonathan, a one sided documentary and then seeing your twitter account with lots of pictures of GTF/BTF protesting does show your complete lack of impartiality. Actually why dont you just say you support the Boycott Sri-Lanka campaign and be more honest. As a journalist you have complete lost your objectivity. The Diaspora in the UK have every right to protest, but their views dont matter, they left Sri-Lanka, angry, bitter and determined to have their eelam. Ethnic nationalists who dont care about Sri-Lankans only themselves.

    1. Coolbackgrounds.ca says:

      Sir, you are a clown. What exactly does “but their views don’t matter” mean?
      The Tamil’s left Sri lanka, because of unfair treatment, the government’s lack of respect for human life and because of an all out em-pending war that dragged on for many years. Everyone’s view matters, how could you conclude that this report is one sided? Use the internet, find out for your self who’ has committed war crimes, what were the reasons for a terrorist organization’s to emerge out of such a small island country. Why and how did so many Tamil leave sri Lanka legally/illegally. Question your self, why do the Tamil’s want a separate homeland even after the demise of such “terrorist organization”. Question your self, are the Tamil’s being treated fairly now that there are no threat’s to the Sinhalese government/people. But no sir, you are a clown, and you will forever be a clown, David Wales.

  28. kaan says:
  29. Srivanamoth says:

    The ‘No Fire Zone’ Channel 4 film leaves one short of words. It is one of absolute cruelty to helpless civilians after inveigling them into such an area. It leaves one astounded but not surprised by actions of a racist state in action. And yet unrepentent. The authors of the film are to be commended for their very painstaking piecing together of the clips into a whole which is very disturbing indeed. Worth showing in all participating countries at CHOGM, if not in CHOGM itself, if the state still says “zero casualties”. Otherwise where lies the problem? Hopefully UNHRC has viewed the film. Hopefully the ICC will get to see it one day, some day.

  30. Samir says:

    It is sad that, there is a body (UN) that supposed to help innocents around the world,which knowingly help the government to kill their own people. The man in charge in UN doesn’t want to take the action forward even its own investigation found that, last phase of the war there were more than 40,000 innocent lives killed by the government forces. It is sad that calling them self fighters for democracy, wants to have a nice vacation tour by the taxpayers money. If these politicians have a real back bone, they should tell the government of Srilanka, this is not acceptable to allow you host Common Wealth Summit, because you kill your own people. You must clean your hands before we sit with you.This is the only genocide in the 21st century without witnessed by the world.

  31. Lesley Watkinson says:

    Staggered at the complete absence of outrage on main media news, am. 4th November, in response to No Fire Zone, Channel 4 10.50pm Sunday 3rd.
    Deeply ashamed and embarrassed by prospect of attendance of David Cameron, William Hague and Prince Charles at CHOGM in Colombo.

    1. Tom Hannay says:

      I agree completely. I am utterly disgusted that David Cameron et al are even considering attending.

  32. Shankar says:

    Dear Jonathan Miller and Channel 4 team

    All I can say ( as a poor person) to you all that my sincere heartfelt thanks towards your work and efforts to bring out the hidden truth(apparently). I don’t believe anymore that there is a GOD exist, however all the wishes and heartfelt thanks from these poor Tamils and the wishes from those who watched with honest heart will lead you to get success in your professional and for a long healthy life. No more comments.

    My sincere heartfelt thanks with tears,
    Shankar Thiyagaraja

  33. Ameera says:

    No fire zone was indeed a trap by the SL military to kill as many tamil people as possible in the name of war against terror…the UN charter is there for a reason and if one state is to blatantly breach it and the world turns a blind eye to it….then the CHOGM is certainly an excuse for a holiday. David Cameron will realise that he is a sheep after all. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others…headed by the untouchable Rajapaksa clan who changed the constitution to suit their needs. When enough evidence has been brought to ones attention the natural thing to do is to act on it….when it is not being done one would question that…but no answers are forth coming from those who are answerable then they are in it together! For those innocent lives lost in the no fire zones..RIP…those who have failed you will find no inner peace.

  34. arul valan says:

    Sir, you have used the name ‘unrepentant pariah’ in your article. I wonder whether you know the real meaning of the word or name pariah. Had you known you would’nt have used it. It refers to the community of untouchables of Tamilnadu. The usage of the name means that you affirm the untouchability practiced on them. Consult any dalit leader from India you know. They will shed more light on this.
    The use of the name to ridicule or condemn someone, has been condemned long ago.

    1. Selva says:

      Of course. But in English there is another meaning like international outlaw, etc. You can recall one of the adventures of Mr. Subramaniam Swamy that he once called the people of Tamil Eelam with these words.

  35. S.Sanders says:

    Thank you for making this accurate and articulate documentary. The dead are now gone but will not be forgotten.
    I have written a book about all of this called “The Land of Lost Content”, available on amazon.
    We should hang our heads in shame and sadness for what we have done to our “resplendent isle”.
    “Absolute power is absolute corruption”…there will be no lasting peace for Lanka.

  36. Nikita says:

    Once again C4 have brought tears to my eyes. The lost lives cannot and must not be forgotten. I hope the politicians in the UK make a stand like the Canadian govt. At least there is one media to reflect the mistreatment a of Tamils in SL-credits to the makers of the documentary. The long struggle of Tamils in the NE Sri Lanka told in an hour. There is more need for an independent state than ever

  37. Anon says:

    We lost tonnes of our own civilians in fighting a war with a government who doesn’t seem to like our race. Our women faced rape. Our people faced torture. Our children faced death and our elderly faced gun shots straight to their heads depsite the fact they were elderly. Our tigers fought for one thing. Justice. All we ever wanted was peace. All we ever wanted was to live in a nation where we could just live in our homes without the fear of being raided and killed for doing NOTHING. Our struggle, one of the longest running war in the region, serves as inspiration for many freedom groups around the world.The situation of the Tamils is complicated. First in 19th century, we became prey’s of the British. Not soon after that, the Sri Lankan government became repressive and the Tigers took the issue to their hands launching a bid for separate Ceylon – home of the Tamils. We were fighting for our nation. After independence in 1948, the Sinhalese felt that their greater numbers entitled them to more rights and powers. As time went on they began to resent the relatively egalitarian arrangement set up by the British. Bandaranaike made Sinhala the official language of Sri Lanka and the language of the government and promised to give uneducated Sinhalese a more active role in the government. Tamils were required to learn Sinhalese and use it in schools rather than their own language. The “Sinhala only” policy placed Tamils in the position of quickly learning the Sinhalese or lose their the jobs Why should we change our language because someone thinks we have to follow his footsteps because all we did was give him our votes by TRUSTING HIM. and guess what? that backfired on us. we as a nation felt the need to protect us tamils. We are brothers and sisters and we make sure everyone of us is safe. In 1958, Tamils took the street and thousands were killed during bloody riots when Sinhalese mobs attacks Tamils living in Sinhalese areas. Then in the war we lost millions i tell you. Tonnes. The Tamil Tigers were formally outlawed as a terrorist group in the United States, India, Britain, Canada, and Australia. Prabhakran insisted that his group was not a “terrorist organization” but rather was a “liberation movement.” The Sri Lankan government may deny this but what has been done is done and you can do nothing to HIDE IT. Don’t get me wrong but some Sinhalese people are good but killing tonnes of people is a whole new story. The LTTE did not abduct anyone. Tamils wanted to join the war. All we ask for is a small piece of land. What harm would that do? There are still many cases of people getting abducted even NOW. The government doesn’t allow a Tamil person to become president. Is this not prejudice? I could say more but let’s leave it.

  38. Piratheepan says:

    Hi Jonathan Miller
    Thank you for your all support

  39. Weera says:

    I am sick and tired of hearing the expression ‘genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka by SL regime’. This is a blatant lie circulated by the Tamil separatists who are desperately trying to win the hearts and minds of the International Community with their ultimate aim to carve out a separate homeland for the Tamils in the North and East of SL. When ruthless bloodthirsty LTTE killers were slaughtering Sinhala, Muslim and moderate peace loving Tamils including infants and school children, all these Tamil hypocrites and Tamil sympathizers were silent and didn’t utter a word against those barbarians. If Tamils in SL are being discriminated and ill-treated by the Sinhala majority, why not visit SL and see how the majority of Tamils are living peacefully with the Sinhala people in the south.

  40. Dr, Chula Rajapakse says:

    No Fire Zone, like it’s predecessors, is a collection of unattributable, uncorrobroborated video strips, with muffled voices and blurred faces, with Tiger diaspora posing as an independent witness, held together by a biased and partisan commentary that lays the blame for the human carnage of war shown, entirely on the Sri Lankan forces and makes the Tigers who terrorised Sri Lanka for three decades to earn the label of the ” worlds most brutal terrorists “, appear as the “good guys”!.
    To form a balanced opinion, please see the documentary “Lies Agreed Upon” easily accessed on U tube. In it, over fifty tamil civilians representing the 300,00 rescued tamil civilians, six tamil doctors who were with the tamil civilians throughout the last few weeks of the war, all testify that all the directed shooting at civilians came fro the tigers, to prevent their human shields from fleeing and only had the highest praise for the Sri Lankan soldiers.
    Julia Bishop, current Foreign Minister of Australia at a press coference following a visit to Sri Lanka in March when she visited the Northrn province under the sponsorship of the TNA, stated that when she pressed for specific instances of white van disappearances, the examples that they could come up with related to events before the end of the war in May 2009.

  41. Anon says:

    Sri Lanka was originally a Tamil country and the Sinhala race came after Prince Vijaya from India had been sent to Sri Lanka as punishment and there he had married a Tamil woman and together they created a new race. SO WE ARE NOT TAKING LAND AWAY. We are taking whats rightfully ours. We never asked for the whole country. Just a bit of land and if you cannot do that then we gotta fight for it. Giving our own rights and a piece of land wouldn’t cause this much commotion okaay. Freedom fighters are different to Terrorists. A freedom fighter will use all tactics he can against the MILITARY of his adversary. A terrorist targets civilians. WE FOUGHT AGAINST THE MILITARY BUT THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT ARE IN A POSITION OF AUTHORITY AND STILL VIOLATED HUMAN RIGHTS SO ARENT THEY TERRORSITS? The Sri Lankan Government has created so many propagandas to make people think and feel a certain way so get your facts right cos you’ve all been fed lies.

    1. Dinesh says:

      You conveniently failed to mention how the Tamil Tigers have carried out numerous suicide bombings on civilian targets such as public transport. So yes, the Tamil Tigers ARE terrorists.

      1. Anon says:

        Eurgh Purlease! Sucide bombers are people who give up their life to get what they deserve doesnt mean we are terrorists! More Tamil people have died than Sinhalese so your arguements invalid. Leave.

  42. Daniel Joseph says:

    I am disgusted with channel 4 for being a proxy for LTTE terrorists. Make no mistake, I do believe that the Govt. of SL has many questions to answer, some may be definite war crimes. The govt. should not simply say ‘fake video’ and get away. If so the govt should take channel 4 to courts for discrediting SL!!

    Through out this video and the previous ones, the channel 4 has been the mouth piece for the LTTE. In fact the whole of latest video, there was only 1 statement against LTTE which was
    ‘its being reported that LTTE also shot tamils who tried to flee’. Even this is a dilution of the truth. There are definite satellite images of LTTE shooting their own tamils.

    Every channel 4 programmes showed gruesome killings by the govt., having forgotten much more gruesome killings by the LTTE over 30 year period. Other than passing comments, they never explained to the unsuspecting audience that the LTTE was the most gruesome terrorist organisations having done more than 300 suicide bombings alone ( biggest in the world by far in addition to many random bombings of innocent civilians as well as killings of both Sinhalese and tamils.

    So actually who is most responsible for the final tamil death tally? Beyond doubt it is the LTTE !!! While claiming that they are the saviours of tamils, they kept the whole tamil population as hostages for many months at gun point. Was it because they loved the tamils? NO. In the face of imminent defeat, the despicable LTTE leaders wanted to hide behind innocent tamils, sacrificed every one including kids, kept innocents in the line of fire and shot any one who dared to leave. Dear channel 4, please do not ever say that tamils were trapped….. no they were kept hostage!!!!! Over many months and certainly in the final stages, the govt. repeatedly asked people to come to govt. side but they were not allowed. When finally they could, hundreds of thousands took the opportunity and they are living today in peace.

    So, in the final stages, what was the only option for the LTTE to prevent a total wipe out? They HAD to show the world of people dying and blown to pieces expecting the world to save them. The LTTE leadership who did not care too hoots for the lives of tamils, probably bombed their own people ( just like they shot others trying to leave) with videos ready to show the world !!!! Certainly this may not explain every incident, but certainly their is credible evidence to suggest that this was happening. You totally put the blame on SL govt. – Didn’t you???

    What happened in the last 2 days? Yes, scores were killed by the govt. but who were they? Prior to this govt. gave many opportunities for civilians to leave and almost all left. Some stayed behind. My guess is that they all were the die hard LTTE ‘s ( suicide bomber type) who stayed back with the leadership. Hence the death toll in the final 2 days are not that of civilians but likely die hard LTTE terrorists. Isn’t it? Do not add this to ‘ civilians killed’ !!!!!

    Dear channel 4, do not be a mouth piece for the world’s most lethal terrorists as you have been. Give a balanced view. Challenge SL govt. where its due, but put the majority of the blame on the terrorists.

    1. Kumar Abayasekara says:

      If Channel 4 did not highlight the atrocities of the last days of the civil war, the world would have been poorer for information. It would have been akin to denying the Holocaust. The hopes of justice for the victims would have been lost. It is to Channel 4 and other such groups to which we should be grateful for continuing on this theme which will have an impact on prevention of criminality so overtly prevalent in Sri Lankan society today.
      Let us not be distracted and start blaming Channel 4. The real issues which underpin the violence in society are to do with resource distribution. This in turn relates to our understanding of human dignity. Every human being in this planet has a right to dignity. Every sane human being has reciprocating responsibilities. It is true that there is continued discrimination of various strata of Sri Lankan society. In a democratic world by exposing evil, Channel 4 acts as a buffer to this violence. The question I pose then is would we have been better off without Channel 4 reporting on Sri lanka’s war crimes? Would this not have at least a deterrant effect on the current behaviour of criminals in Sri Lanka and prevent further violence?
      The hypocrisy of the West in downplaying their own violence is so aptly mentioned by some responders. Indeed whether in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sri Lanka or troubled African states it will be the poor and lower middle classes who will pay with their lives and health to say the least. All those of us who are remotely affected and believe we are well cushioned should at least strive to be responsible in our criticism.
      Diaspora Tamils who assisted, hero-worshipped and fondly referred to the violent LTTE as ‘our boys’ you are responsible for this violence on unarmed, helpless Tamil civilians! If you have any respect for those affected, I challenge you to contribute to the rehabilitation ventures in Sri Lanka.
      Those who want to dilute the violence on the innocent will be responsible for the current criminality in Sri Lanka. They will preclude justice for the victims. Channel 4 should maintain their pressure on the War Criminals.
      If Channel 4 is to be responsible in its reporting we would like to know about the War Criminality of Drone attacks. Investigate and expose those who manufacture biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Likewise inform the public regarding those responsible for the war industry that sell weapons to various warring factions across the world. These are just a few suggestions but overall my heartfelt appreciation for highlighting the plight of my fellow human beings in Sri Lanka.
      Sri Lanka as in other parts of the planet will only be healed when we have learnt to treat others with dignity. The answer to that is based on the restoration of our perverted self seeking disoriented grasp of reality when we come to see the nature of the one true God face to face in the life, execution (a suffering God) and resurrection (God overcoming the final evil of death) of Jesus Christ. I challenge us all to read and investigate this grasp of reality which is not a difficult thing to do but an imperative priority. Then you will see and know why I write what I write.

  43. Silverfox says:

    I am of Sri Lankan origin. I know little about the political issues other than an outsider looking on to my country of birth.
    I would like clarity regarding the facts. My understanding was that for 25 years the TAmils of Northern Indian descent, caused great damage to the Economy and safety of the civilians. Then as I understand it a new government said enough is enough. Warned the Tamils Tigers that they were coming and not to use civilians as shields. Civilains I am told were also warned to leave the area.
    It is barbaric the actions that were taken, but how long would this situation have gone on for ruining a beautiful peaceful country.
    It is hard to condone the atrocities, but equally hard to fail to understand that SRi Lanka is now a safe place to be so much so i have been enticed to return home after 58 years. It is sad that so many have paid with their lives, but they should have used democracy to fight for their freedom, not killing indiscriminately by bombings of public places that went on for 25 years.
    We the British sit down with the same terrorist in our dispute with Ireland, people who bombed Britain, are now in political seats having bombed innocent civilians, justifying the fact that killing is a means to an end.
    Let us not be hypocritical, drastic situation demand drastic actions, that is what the Sri Lankan govnment did and the results are there to be seen , as the Country becomes one of the hottest tourist destinations, bring work to singhalese and tamils, ex pats returning with their wealth to a country that is now safe.
    Investigate and expose what happened, but lets us not forget without it happening, SRI LANKA would be in a far worse place, and respect should be given to the Government for dealing with the situation and not “pussy footing” around.

    I stand to be corrected as I am not as knowledgeable as others, but spoken as i see it right now.

  44. Kathryn says:

    Did the UK supply the aircraft and weapony to the Sri Lankan forces? I think I remember hearing this? What can we do- is there a petition to the Commonwealth?

  45. Nuremberg says:

    Thanks again to the Channel 4 team for the’ No Fire Zone broadcast’ and relentlessly pursuing the alleged atrocities that killed an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 innocent Tamil civilians, including women and children. The brutality is still continuing with people being rounded up and not found alive afterwards. The recent impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the attempt to ignore crucial evidence of one of the two independent juror’s verdict on the impeachment of the Chief Justice from those responsible for the final arrangements for CHOGM 2013, must give us a sharp reminder of what is going on behind the scenes. The recent incidents of intimidation of candidates and voters for the provincial council elections in the North is further evidence that the country has slipped into autocracy. Engagement & Reconciliation’ is a false substitute for an independent international inquiry. It is about time our politicians engaged the voters with a grown-up debate about the real issues concerned with allegations of war-crimes committed in Sri Lanka in 2009 and before that. “The government of Sri-lanka has some serious questions to answer about the closing stages of the civil war in 2009” has been the stock answer of both Labour and Conservative governments in answer to parliamentary questions by MP’s. Instead of attending a talking shop and shaking the blood-stained-hands of dictators, many would like to see some real progress on the investigations of alleged war-crimes, extra-judicial-killings and human rights abuses. The Commonwealth urgently needs a new working model where brutal regimes and rogue states are asked to explain their actions based on evidence, or face expulsions. An innocent regime should have no fear or qualms about an independent inquiry and should be able to cooperate in any such inquiry. That can be the first step towards a peaceful Sri lanka Committed to democratic values and principles and also a beacon of light to other members of the Commonwealth.

  46. Jay says:

    Jonathan,
    Good work. Srilanka is a third world country & one can’t reasonably expect same standard of democracy & observance of human rights as in western countries. Don’t get bundled into an unmarked white van. We don’t want to see your loved ones out in Colombo streets holding your photograph & looking for you. It is a different world out there as you would have realised by now. Come home safely!

  47. umdp says:

    Torture does NOT exist in sri lanka after the civil war
    Channel 4 videos show soldiers wearing non-military uniforms and does not state sources
    Their is no evidence that they are SL army or LTTE

    Civilians DIE IN WAR, children die and pregnant women die this not a video game where you can spot a civilian from a terrorist easily THIS IS REALITY

    CIA drones kill children in pakistan , americans burned thousands of villages in the vietnam war and British troops committed massacres in North ireland raped women in Iraq why don’t you show these instead of a small country on the other side of the world that is trying to stand once again

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